Skip to content

Best Practices


I tackle every big new problem by asking two questions: Who has dealt with this problem well? And what can we learn from them? --Bill Gates.  

Don't use outdated ideas.  Here, the Center's Workgroups share the latest management best practices. Contact us for more information.

Subscribe to receive Best Practices notifications!

Thank you for Subscribing. A subscription confirmation link has been sent to your email.

Best Practice Workgroup Report: B2B Business Arrangements

Who hasn’t entered a “strategic partnership” only to later discover a clash of expectations? A colossal waste of time at best. Covid accelerated the growth of B2B collaborations of all kinds, so The Center’s Best Practice Workgroup #1 combed through this complex management practice.

Derrick Van Mell

Workgroup report: What’s critical to a great presentation? Part I

These 14 experienced presenters from The Center’s Workgroups created this checklist of the critical skills. Miss one, and you might blow your chance. If nothing else: DON’T BE BORING.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 5.2.1 Organization design

Don’t try to do too much with your org chart: it’s hard enough.

Derrick Van Mell

Workgroup Report: How should managers analyze successes and failures?

Ideas fail because of the concept, presentation or execution—but success requires all three. Members shared personal stories of large and small failures, but analysis always led to breakthroughs.

Derrick Van Mell

Workgroup Report: How can you get a big CRM payback?

Center members from every sector discovered three unanimous conclusions about CRMs. The year spent in selection, training and acceptance is worth, if you follow some rules.

Derrick Van Mell

Workgroup report (Servant Sales): Engaging technical professionals in the client conversation

Servant Sales practitioners hone their skill of asking the right question at the right time. But without careful prep and instilling the practice of patient discovery, their company’s technical person (engineer, architect, accountant, attorney, e.g.) can derail the relationship in 30 seconds.

Bill Mitchell

Management Best Practice of the Week: 6.2.3 Cost Accounting

Responsible managers track cost accounting to inform pricing and discounts, investments in operations efficiency, and the value of training to work more efficiently. Big stuff.

Derrick Van Mell

Workgroup report: When is the right time to launch a new product or service?

Mid-sized businesses need system to both generate and evaluate new product or service ideas. It’s that or (warning: boring analogy to follow) get replaced, never launch or blow up before gaining escape trajectory.

Derrick Van Mell

ad hoc Servant Sales Workgroup: Principles and practices

Servant Sales is a set of principles that the sales process is itself valuable to the prospect, through asking thoughtful and helpful questions. Practitioners are patient and search for ways to fulfill prospect needs knowing that profits will follow.

Derrick Van Mell

Management best practice of the week: 5.3.6 Performance evaluation

You can't claim everyone's engaged until you've evaluated how they engage....

Derrick Van Mell

If you want to know the truth, ask Why five times

Don’t start the project--any project--until there’s a rich, clear and deep understanding of purpose. Otherwise, you'll have to explain to the Board why you wasted millions.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 1.3.3 Affiliations

The pandemic forced managers to look for new “partners” in markets and supply chains. But will the relationship last? While less formal than a joint venture, affiliating is still a serious commitment. Don't risk a bad breakup.

Derrick Van Mell

ad hoc Workgroup

This ad hoc Workgroup of experienced facilities planners took on the hardest question: What if the program is wrong? No one wants to abet the Owner in building the wrong building….

Derrick Van Mell

Workgroup Report: Quantifying the Value of Good Management

Good managers help the organization become more profitable year after year. That’s common sense. But how can you use KPIs to measure and then manage the changes you want? Most businesses use lagging indicators—and that’s a big mistake...

Derrick Van Mell

Management best practice of the week: 2.5 Sales management

The sales team needs help to focus on—and only on—the kinds of sales that are in the plan. The “sales hero” is a dangerous myth: it’s a team sport.

Derrick Van Mell

Best Practice of the week: 6.3.3 Forecasting

Every management decision, plan, and process is based on a forecast, often someone’s faulty hunch. Fortunately, there are established techniques that reduce costly and embarrassing forecast errors.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 5.1.2.1 Delegation

Remote work had grown by 44% before the pandemic. All the practices of collaboration still apply, but with a premium on clear communications of goals and constraints. Your value as a manager is directly proportional to your ability to delegate.

Derrick Van Mell

Management best practice of the week: 5.2 Organization structure

Organization structures have been stressed by COVID. Get new org chart wrong, and your building collapses. But get it right, and everyone will feel and see that their time, skills and passion are being used to their full potential.

Derrick Van Mell

Workgroup Report: How should executives allocate their time?

Everyone wants to spend their time working on the right stuff. Ask your team to compare calendars every six months: no one wants to be working efficiently on the wrong thing. If your email threads are growing and growing, pick up the phone!

Derrick Van Mell

Use Strengths to Attack, Not Just Offset Risks

On September 29, 2020, CFOs from several industries participated in a Roundtable Intensive on risk: “What Else Could Go Wrong?” Michael Best was our sponsor. One key idea: Use your strengths to resolve, not just counterbalance your risks.

Derrick Van Mell

Best Practice of the week: 5.5.2 Performance pay. How to reward an employee's heroic efforts when cash is tight?

Nothing can hurt morale more than getting the bonus system wrong: you can spend a lot of money to get the opposite of the desired result.

Derrick Van Mell

Workgroup report: Assessing, mitigating and collaborating on big risks

Workgroup #1 shared lessons learned from big risks they'd led their organizations through. Some worked out. Some didn't. Don't you think you should look before leaping?

Derrick Van Mell

Best Practice of the Week: 2.3.3. Discounts

Discounts have long-term risks: reducing profits to an unsustainable level, cheapening the brand, creating habituation to lower prices, or starting a price war. But what if customers just don't have the money?

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 6.6 Risk Management

We overestimate our ability to influence events that are heavily determined by chance. This is due to cognitive biases, Are you putting in the uncomfortable work of looking for new risks? Here are ideas, terms and tools to save you from bad surprises.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 4.1.5 Collaboration software

Lack of collaboration is estimated to cost $37 billion per year, which will grow with more working from home. Workers spend on average 570 hours, or 27% of their annual working hours, just dealing with email.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 5.3.1 Worker Safety

In our focus on COVID-19, are we distracted from seeing other safety threats? Every year, work injuries cost industry $170 billion. Don’t let one crisis create another.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 1.5.1.1 Goal

Does your new set of goals pass these tests: Are they ensuring your organization’s continuity? Do they support your customers? Are they stimulating the innovation and change you’ll need to compete in the new world?

Derrick Van Mell

Workgroup report: The Center's Workgroups are optimistic they can help people stay optimistic

Seven Center members share hard-won ideas about managing through a crisis, including how to keep up their own spirits and optimism when things look dark. The 3 discussion questions frame a checklist everyone should use. You'll feel better.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 2.6.1 Customer support

86% of customers quit doing business with a company due to a bad customer experience. How understanding are your locked-down customers?

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 1.5.1 Business planning

The pandemic is causing organizations to respond to huge changes and uncertainties in demand, supplies, and workforce. Does this mean it’s a waste of time to plan?

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 2.2 Channels of distribution

To compete, it’s important to focus on channels where you’re confident you can take significant market share. Have you asked your customers recently about their online experience?

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 3.2.1 Workflow analysis

You might now see disrupted workflow, supply chains and lines of communications. There are best practices for quickly defining and redesigning efficient processes: your employees, customers, vendors and community are counting on you.

Derrick Van Mell

The “big producer” is always a net loser for the firm

Who hasn’t had to deal with a prima donna? Experienced Center members have learned the hard way that you’re much better off without them. What are good practices for deciding whether or not to fire them? And how do you survive in the meantime?

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 2.6 Customer Service

Has the pandemic distracted you from your customers? Your organization won’t survive if your customers felt you weren’t there for them when they needed you.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 5.3.4 Employee policy

The spike in remote work is changing forever how people work together. When did you last audit your employee manual?

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 2.1 Market research

Market research is the only way you can feel confident you’re selling the right products at the right price in the right place and in the right way. Or are you afraid of what your customers will say about you?

Derrick Van Mell

Did years of “open-plan better-togetherness” make us sloppy managers?

The Center’s Workgroup 1 (USA) found that managing remote staff meant imposing the meeting discipline they should have used all along. Now teams are much more productive. Which is rewarding. Which makes you even more productive.

Derrick Van Mell

Best Practice of the Week: 3.4 Supply chain

Supply chains are now disrupted badly. The immediate effects are obvious and everywhere: hand sanitizer in short supply, nonexistent toilet paper and empty grocery store shelves. This might be the time to ask questions about your supply chain.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 2.4.1 Target market

Don’t let habit keep you from looking for good customers in new niches: maybe the barriers are easy to knock down. If you’re not taking small risks in new niches, you’re taking a big risk being stuck in your old one.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 5.3.2 Staff Communications

The large shift to remote work has put a premium on quality communications. One way to protect against costly misunderstandings is to execute a simple, well-designed communications plan that delivers clear messages through the right channels.

Derrick Van Mell

The Use, Misuse and Abuse of Managerial Power

Everyone said they learned about power in their very first supervisory job. Conscientious first-time managers immediately sense how easy it is to be seduced by power. That discomfort should prod us to examine it.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 3.6 Inventory

An inventory depletion shock is coming to Western business inventories as Chinese exports have declined by over 18%. How will you be able to buy or sell inventory, even when orders are shrinking?

Derrick Van Mell

The Center's USA Workgroup 1 debates a key word

There’s a reason not to dismiss a discussion of a terms with, “Oh, that’s just semantics:” you’ll be smarter. And you’ll save a lot of time and money. Every time.

Derrick Van Mell

Building sales collaboration in the entire organization

What’s the best way to align sales staff with the other departments? Reward a “sales first” culture and lose the checks and balances of collaboration—or fail to motivate the ales team and see revenue drop? USA Workgroup 1 makes the path clear.

Derrick Van Mell

Best practice of the week: 2.2.3 E-commerce

E-commerce’s share of all retail sales is now 25%, up from 17% in 2019, and shoppers are rapidly changing brands. Are you waiting for your old channels to come back?

Derrick Van Mell
Powered By GrowthZone
Scroll To Top